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Lions giving Harris possiblity to earn starting cornerback spot

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Under a previous head coach and front office, Detroit drafted Will Harris in 2019 to play safety.

Now, the Lions are giving him an opportunity to be considered a much-needed cornerback in coach Dan Campbells second season.

Harris proceed to cornerback were only available in the center of last season, when injuries at the positioning forced Lions coaches to regulate on the fly.

Despite Harris being the teams starting safety, coaches opted to shift him to cornerback in Week 12. Harris was up for regardless of the Lions threw at him.

Whatever they need me to venture out and do, thats what Im gonna do, Harris said.

First, he played at the nickel position when starter AJ Parker transpired. He then moved to the exterior cornerback position after Jerry Jacobs tore his ACL a couple weeks later.

Will stepped up huge for all of us last season, cornerback Amani Oruwariye said. Its hard to go unnoticed. Hes just Mr. Consistent, Mr. Know EVERYTHING. Hes played every position on the defense (secondary), so hes just on the market making sure he is able to perfect his craft at corner.

In order to narrow his focus, the Lions are making Harris a full-time outside cornerback this season, and theyre giving him a go at the starting job opposite Orurwariye.

Because hes big, hes strong, hes physical, he is able to run, hes got the opportunity, Campbell said. And you also tell him to obtain on the market and compete, and hem a man up and play technique, hes very good. Therefore, sometimes once you take a tiny bit off a guys plate, man, they are able to really grow.

Harris has been cross training between cornerback and safety heading back to his college career at Boston College.

However, that is his first extended look at cornerback. The competitive nature of the positioning and the capability to go one-on-one with a receiver is a thing that is attractive to the fourth-year defensive back.

Being on the market on the island, man, theres nothing else enjoy it, Harris said. Theres nothing else enjoy it. Just the adrenaline you obtain. I dont know, Im a competitor. THEREFORE I get amped just being on the market.

Harris could have significant competition for the starting job, though. Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft who tore his Achilles last September, has been splitting time with Harris on the first-team defense early in training camp. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn approached both Okudah and Harris this offseason to tell them this might be an open competition.

The Lions are encouraged by Harris early play in camp.

Hes a lot more comfortable now since hes just experienced that position since OTAs, Glenn said. He deserves that, he deserves an opportunity to win this job and were likely to give both those guys the opportunity plus they know it.

Even though Harris doesnt find yourself winning the work over Okudah, Detroit values the 26-year-olds capability to fill several roles on the team as long as they incur more injuries this year.

Hes a jack of most trades, Campbell said. Now he is able to play multiple spots along with special teams when he goes into the overall game. Thats a secured asset.

NOTES: Lions tight end Devin Funchess returned to apply on Monday, but remained sidelined during team drills as he works by way of a groin injury. Lions first-round rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson impressed teammates in a team meeting the other day along with his rendition of Michael Jacksons Billie Jean. Butter, offensive tackle Penei Sewell said. He scratched up a bit in the beginning, but I obtain it. Jitters. But he killed it. That man killed it.


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